By Rod Gipson
Tampa Plant was practically untouchable last season as it claimed the Class 5A state volleyball championship. Now, the question surrounding the 2007 team is can this squad be even better than it was a year ago? And a week into the regular season, it's a valid question. It's still early but the Panthers are off to a 2-0 start and have looked convincing doing it.
Plant has an outstanding setter in senior Kellie Catanach, a solid defensive specialist, Cameron Hill and a great libero in Ali McCurdy. If that's not enough, two of the best hitters in the Tampa Bay-area in junior Danielle Erb and sophomore Maddie Martin also are on the Plant roster. In a 3-0 (25-17, 25-5, 25-11) opening week win against Valrico Bloomingdale, Erb and Martin combined for 22 kills and Martin posting 10 service aces. The Panthers begin their district schedule this week againstTampa Blake and Tampa Middleton.
Tonelli moving on
Tony Tonelli, the only boys basketball coach Tampa Wharton High has had, is resigning to take an assistant coaching job at the University of South Florida. Tonelli, who was named coach at Wharton when the school opened in 1997, has won more than 200 games as the Wildcat coach. In 2006, the Wildcats went 29-2 and advanced to the Class 5A region finals. Tonelli, a former player and assistant at USF, was named coach of the year last season by the Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association.
Solid trio of golfers
Wesley Chapel opened its season with three players breaking 40 for nine-hole scores. Wildcat senior Mike Wozniak led all scorers with a 38. Freshmen Brandon Mumaw and Matt Wynne each shot 39 in the Wesley Chapel win against Land O'Lakes Sunlake.The Wildcats will face off with Zephyrhills and Land O'Lakes September 6 in a tri-team match.
Cross country off and running
Tampa Jesuit and Tampa Sickles are looking like state championship contenders during the early part of the cross country season. Jesuit junior Connor Revord set a meet record for high school runners at the Southern Stars 5k August 24. Revord ran to an overall first-place finish with a 16:06 time to lead a pack of Jesuit runners. The Tigers had a total of four runners in the top 20 at the meet: Jordan Schilit was fifth (16:52) while Logan Trimble was 15th (17:37) and Matt Tucker was 16th (17:35). Revord battled down the stretch with Sickles' brothers Derek and Dan Wehunt.
Derek Wehunt was three seconds behind Revord to take second while Dan placed eighth at 17:04. Sickles standout runner Ciprian Mejia did not participate due to a foot injury. He is expected back in a few weeks. Other solid finishes came from Land O'Lakes' Felix Soto (fourth at 16:47), Tampa Chamberlain's Mark Parrish (seventh at 17:02), New Port Richey Ridgewood's Steven Landreth (ninth at 17:16) and Tampa Berkeley Prep's Richard Blake (12th at 17:29).